Ex-GFC workers call on Commission to safeguard rights

– after Commission refuses to pay severance to sacked workers

Several former workers of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC), along with officials of the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU), picketed the GFC’s Head Office in Kingston, Georgetown on Thursday after the GFC refused to pay them their benefits following a decision to terminate their employment.
GAWU, the workers’ bargaining agent, had represented the matter to the Commission, pointing out that the Termination of Employment and Severance Pay Act (TESPA) obligates an employer to pay severance on the termination of an employee.

The ex-workers protesting at the GFC’s Head Office

Arising from the GFC’s stance, the Union approached the Labour Ministry, and following a meeting on August 16, 2021, the Ministry upheld the Union’s view and recommended that the workers be paid their severance, in keeping with TESPA.
The Commission’s representatives at that time requested some time to brief their principals and to respond to the Ministry and the Union. Both GAWU and the Labour Ministry made several attempts to contact the Commission, and by letter dated September 10, 2021, the GFC informed the Union and the Ministry that it had decided not to respect the Labour Ministry’s recommendation.
The Union, in the meantime, has sought the Ministry’s further intervention, as the matter remains alive.
“The workers, having learnt of the Commission’s decision, were deeply upset and disturbed. They shared that while the Commission and themselves may have had differences, they did not expect the GFC, whom they served for several years, to treat them in the manner which they are,” GAWU stated in a release.
The workers are also contending that they are seeking to move on, and as such, seek their severance.
The GAWU, at this time, urges the GFC, as a state agency, to reconsider its position and ensure that the workers’ rights are safeguarded.
It was reported back in May that several employees of the Guyana Forestry Commission (GFC) were sacked for reportedly playing a game of dominoes during their lunch break. But it was later leant that the men were playing dominoes during a ministerial visit by Natural Resources Minister Vickram Bharrat to the office.